Wethersfield senior Zoe Kleeblatt keeps a smile on her face no matter what obstacle arises.
That optimistic outlook has helped her process through the unprecedented finish to her high school career, which included the cancellation of the spring softball season.
“When we first heard about it, no one thought we wouldn’t be coming back the rest of the year,” Kleeblatt recalled when first hearing the news of cancellations and distance learning, “But it’s been a pretty good experience, considering the time. You don’t have that interaction with your peers and teachers, but the teachers at WHS are just amazing. They’re doing a great job connecting with the students and we’re learning just as much as we would have if we were in the classroom.”
Kleeblatt starred at both field hockey and softball during her time as WHS.
The four-year, multi-sport athlete contributed to the rapid growth of the field hockey program, which increased its win total in each of Kleeblatt’s seasons, culminating this fall when the Eagles finished the regular season 15-1 and won a tournament game.
“We had been building up the program and it was good to see all the hard work from the players and coaches had finally paid off. We were not only playing better, but we were winning too.”
Then there was softball, her true childhood passion.
Countless hours of playing catch with her father, Greg, in the backyard helped hone her abilities and years of competitive softball (both school and travel) allowed her to develop the skills need to play at the next level.
“For softball, I’ve been playing for so long. Every time I step on the field I feel excited about it. I just love getting on the field every day and it’s really special playing with all my friends.”
Colleen Budaj, who coached Kleeblatt all four seasons in both sports, called Kleeblatt a versatile player who is dedicated to the sport.
Budaj added that Kleeblatt also aided with the skill development of future WHS softball players, “She helped at a number of youth clinics that we helped run with Wethersfield Little League this winter, and in past seasons. She enjoys working with the younger players and sharing her love of the sport with them.”
“Our relationship is special because we’ve known each other for so long,” said Kleeblatt, who first had Budaj as a teacher in the sixth grade, “She’s been in my life for so long and she’s gotten to know how I learn as a player. I’ve really enjoyed working with her these past four years and I think she’s helped me develop as a leader too because she’s such a good leader. I take those aspects of her coaching to being a captain and a leader.”
When she wasn’t competing as an athlete, Kleeblatt was part of the Young Democrats Club and Skills21 App Development Club at WHS. In Skills21 she learned to write code and develop useful apps, which included a fitness app, an app to help save sea turtles, and an app for students on the autism spectrum.
Kleeblatt’s next stop is Dickinson College, where she’ll join the Red Devils softball team in Carlisle, Pennsylvania next spring.
“I’m super excited to go play at Dickinson. I really loved the campus and the students. It’s the right size for me and it’s not too close, but not too far. I fell in love with the school. It felt like my place.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin